I’ve never felt the slightest bit of desire to make this whiteout cake. There are so many more compelling cakes in the world and in this cookbook. Baked: New Frontiers contains one of my all-time favorite cakes: the lemon drop cake. The red velvet cake is pretty delicious too. I’m thrilled to be baking through Baked: New Frontiers because it gives me an excuse to make the grasshopper cake. But a simple white cake with white chocolate frosting, which is what the whiteout cake is…? Strikingly pretty, but boring flavor-wise (or at least that was my assumption).
The Baked whiteout cake relies on a combination of ice water and whipped egg whites to achieve its pale ivory interior (the single egg and the vanilla extract contribute enough color that the effect isn’t pure white).
Like almost all of the Baked cakes, the whiteout cake starts with a combination of butter and shortening whipped together. The shortening gives the cake a longer shelf life and a tender crumb, while the butter imparts its rich creamy flavor to the cake. Once thoroughly whipped together, granulated sugar is added and whipped with the fat until the mixture is really fluffy and very pale in color. This process helps trap sugar molecules in the fat, which helps create the lofted cake and delicate crumb structure as the cake bakes. To that is added a single egg and vanilla extract. Then, as with virtually all Baked cakes, you alternately add flour and ice water in three parts (flour-liquid-flour-liquid-flour).
Upon addition of the ice water, your cake is going to look like it has curdled. The appearance is rather dramatically disconcerting, but fret not. Continue with the alternate additions, beating each time on low until not quite fully incorporated, and all will turn out okay.
Next, you’ll need to whip three egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to soft peaks. This is one of those times when it’s really helpful to have both a hand mixer as well as a stand mixer, otherwise you’re either transferring the cake batter to a different bowl, cleaning the mixer bowl, then whipping the egg whites, or you’re stuck whipping them by hand.
The egg whites are folded into the batter, and then the batter is divided equally across three 8-inch cake pans. For me, each pan contained 481 grams of batter each.
The recipe specifies a baking time of 40-45 minutes. I wish I had checked mine a little earlier than I did, because at 38 minutes my cakes were definitely deep golden brown on top …. to the point that I worry they were overbaked.
I let my cakes cool for several hours, ran (literally) to Whole Foods for the white chocolate I needed, and then got started on my sometime-nemesis, the Baked ermine frosting. Whisk together sugar and flour, add a little cream and whole milk, and cook the mixture until it starts to thicken and begins to boil. Although it isn’t strongly stressed in the recipe, make sure you whisk rather frequently so that you don’t wind up with any chunks of gross flour-sugar globs. As soon as the frosting base begins to boil, pour it into you stand mixer’s bowl and beat it at high speed with the paddle attachment for about 5-10 minutes (depending on what kind/horsepower your mixer is).
Interestingly, the process described in this recipe is a little different/less exacting than their later frosting recipes. There are no time estimates given for how long things should take and the butter seems to be added all at once when the frosting is cooked (instead of tablespoon by tablespoon). I leaned on my previous experience with this frosting and added the tiny chunks of cool butter a little bit at a time. Caleb stopped to look at the bowl and asked whether it was supposed to look so chunky…. don’t despair. Just like a watched pot never boils, a watched bowl of ermine frosting will never come together. Let it beat on low for about 10 minutes, then turn the speed up to medium, and it should whip into a light buttercream.
I went with Green & Black’s white chocolate (because it was the only non-chip white chocolate option at the grocery store). I thought it looked really pretty with the flecks of vanilla seed in the chocolate. I melted my 6 ounces of white chocolate before starting the cooked frosting process, so it was plenty cooled when the time came to add it along with a little vanilla at the end. The white chocolate taste comes through, but it’s pretty subtle.
Ultimately, the whiteout cake lived up to my expectations for it. The white cake with white chocolate frosting is good, and if that’s the kind of cake you’re into, this version is likely to be a hit. Our friends’ kids ate the cake in record time; one of them didn’t even wait for a fork before diving in. I would make this for kids who are picky eaters, or adults who are picky eaters, and feel confident that it would go over well. On the other hand, it’s not a cake I would make again. It’s good, but it’s not delicious. It’s not a cake I’m going to crave or even a cake I feel like eating a huge slice of. As with almost all cakes, whether you’ll like the Baked whiteout cake is really a matter of your personal cake preferences.
Intrigued? Head over to Baked Sunday Mornings for the recipe and to see what the other bakers thought.